Farm Beginnings® Overview
Looking to launch or expand your farming business?
Join this year-long Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training Program!
Many skills are required to start a successful farm: passion, clear goals, production experience, financial and marketing know-how, and more. The Farm Beginnings® class is a 12-month training session that helps beginning farmers clarify their goals and strengths, establish a strong enterprise plan and start building their operation. The course uses a mix of farmer-led classroom sessions, on-farm tours, and an extensive farmer network. Farm Beginnings® is designed for new and expanding farmers who want to plan a profitable farm business. Students do not need to currently own land, but some farming or production experience is required to get the most out of the class.
Farm Beginnings® 2018-2019 will be hosted in partnership with Growing Rural Opportunities, in Mill Springs, NC. The mission of GRO is crafting and creating opportunities for local farms and communities by facilitating public education about, and advancement of, agriculture.
What I got from Farm Beginnings is a real understanding of what it actually takes to have a farm. Before going into the program I had a lot of lofty dreams about living a bucolic life. This class really taught me what it takes and the hard work that goes into farming by introducing us to real farmers and getting real numbers. It was also a really great way to connect to other local farmers and people who are just starting out, in order to create a network of folks who have the same passion and vision.Quinn Asteak
2018-2019 Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training is 210+ Hours including:
- Winter Whole-Farm Business Planning Courses – 60 hours (October – March)**
- ASAP’s Business of Farming Conference (February) – 8 hours
- OGS Spring Conference (March) & Harvest Conference (September) – 40+ hours
- Mentorship with an experienced Farmer Mentor (March – September) – 15 hours
- Production Training – 45 hours (April – October): WNC CRAFT tours on sustainable farms around WNC & Field Days at the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Incubator Farm
- One year WNC CRAFT Farmer Network membership – Membership and mentoring in a regional farmer network
**Location of Winter Sessions: GRO- Growing Rural Opportunities at the Mill Spring Agricultural Center, 156 School Road, Mill Spring, NC 28756 (Polk County) 45 minutes from Asheville. View map here.
Read the 2017-18 Winter Course Descriptions here.
See full season: 2018-2019 course schedule (coming soon).
The connections that we have created at New Roots through Farm Beginnings is what we cherish the most. Many different farmers took the time to share their stories, mistakes, successes and business models with us. These stories helped us in making many of our own first-time decisions. We now have a network of dear friends whom we can call on if we ever have a problem, need assistance, or just simply to talk, vent, and relate.New Roots Market Garden, Krista Wesch and Stephen Rosenthal
Curriculum & Schedule
Read the 2017 -18 Winter Course Descriptions here.
See full season 2018-2019 Course Schedule (coming soon).
How to Apply
We are currently accepting applications for the 2018-2019 Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training course and will be accepting applications on a rolling basis until September 30th, 2018 or until the class is full. Read more about the application process and apply now through our How to Apply page.
Tuition & Scholarships
Learn more about tuition, scholarship, and payment plan opportunities here.
Goals for Participants
Through Farm Beginnings® you can:
- Tap into knowledge of some of the most innovative & skilled farmers operating in WNC through farmer instructors and experience farmer mentors.
- Build a strong peer-to-peer farmer network for skill sharing, problem solving, and mentoring for success through the mentorship program and networking opportunities.
- Learn critical farm management skills such as creative financing and innovative marketing strategies through winter classroom courses.
- Experience sustainable practices on real farms under a variety of conditions through on-site production training.
- Learn to view a farm as an interconnected system and how holistic goals help determine success.
- Craft YOUR tailor-made farm plan.
Why Train Farmers?
The OGS Farmer Programs have trained more than 825 farmers and farmers workers and have graduated 33 beginning farmers from Farm Beginnings (2015-2017). Farming takes courage and perseverance, dedication and time. Few who start and aspire to farm will be able to succeed without help. Learn more about why farmer training is important. Learn more about the farming journey.
The National Collaborative
Organic Growers School is a member of Farm Beginnings® Collaborative, a national alliance of independent regional groups of farmers and farmer-training support organizations working together to promote Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training. The Farm Beginnings® Collaborative, includes thirteen organizations with programs serving beginning farmers in 10 states and focused on a model of farmer training that is community based, rooted in sustainable principles, and farmer led.
The Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training program offered through Organic Growers School is based in Asheville, NC and serves the Southern Appalachians. The program features all the best in regionally-centered curriculum as well as the collective wisdom of the national alliance.
Farm Beginnings Collaborative Facts & Milestones:
- More than 250 aspiring farmers have completed Farm Beginnings.
- 72% of graduates are currently engaged in farming.
- Graduate farmers sell a variety of vegetables, specialty herbs, pastured meats, eggs, cut and potted flowers, honey, small fruits and plants
- 99% of graduate farmers use sustainable practicesGraduate farmers overwhelming use sustainable production methods on their land.
For questions, please contact Farmer Programs Coodinator, Nicole DelCogliano at firstname.lastname@example.org
OGS Farmer Programs are made possible by our farmer network and funding in part by Carolina Farm Credit, Community Foundation of WNC, CLIF Bar Family Foundation, French Broad Food Co-op, New Belgium Brewing, Organic Valley - Farmers Advocating for Organic Farming, Simply Organic 1%, and by the USDA-NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, Grant #2016-70017-25341. Read more about Farmer Programs' Funding Partners here.